March 22, 2022

Engaging Guam’s Early Childhood Educators in Social & Emotional Learning through Conscious Discipline

By Eloise Sanchez and Amy Speidel

While many of our public schools throughout the nation have focused over the last two years on implementing various instructional approaches due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Region 18 Comprehensive Center (R18CC) and the Guam Department of Education (GDOE) facilitated its first in-person professional development for Early Childhood Educators since January 2020. The Social & Emotional Learning: Conscious Discipline training was held from Tuesday, January 18th through Friday, January 21st, 2022 ChST at the University of Guam’s School of Business Building in Mangilao, Guam (Guåhan). The participants included Preschool Teachers, Kindergarten Teachers, Childcare Directors/Providers, Instructional Coaches, District Mentors and designated School Elementary Principals with Preschool Programs.


The shift from a virtual to an in-person professional development modality made all the difference in providing Early Childhood Educators with high-quality learning experiences. Instead of working in virtual breakout rooms, participants were able to turn to their partner and engage in deeper discussions on the various social and emotional concepts.


Ms. Amy Speidel, the main facilitator of the Conscious Discipline Training, stated that facilitating the in-person training provided her the opportunity to demonstrate the various Conscious Discipline Strategies more effectively. Ms. Speidel was able to actively engage the participants throughout the sessions.  

Ms. Amy Speidel explains the concept of “Composure: Power of Perception—No one can make me angry without my permission.”

The training session’s outcomes were to provide each Early Childhood Educator with strategies for supporting a child’s social and emotional developmental needs. The four-day sessions included the following topics: Emotional Regulations Tools for the Classroom; How to set up a Supportive Safe Place; Conscious Discipline Introduction; and Supporting Teachers on their Conscious Discipline Journey. The session was also able to make a farther reach into Region 18 since twelve educators from the Pohnpei Department of Education in the Federated States of Micronesia were able to virtually participate in one of the sessions.

Left to Right: ECE participants demonstrating the Brain States with Ms. Amy Speidel.

Kindergarten Teachers engaged in an activity facilitated by Ms. Amy Speidel.

Ms. Amy Speidel shared the following:

“One of the joys of leading a group of educators is how much you learn from them!  Hearing their stories, how much they pour into the children and families in their care leaves one feeling hopeful for our world. Conscious Discipline seeks to bring a fresh approach to the school experience, supporting students in becoming decision-makers and problem-solvers in social settings by creating a strong school-family environment. Through instruction, conversation, and even fun activities, teachers learn more about themselves, how they approach challenging situations, and how to manage their own moments of upset so as to be the model for children. Teachers don’t just educate our children. Teachers build our future, one child at a time!”
The R18CC team of Eloise Sanchez and Paulina Yourupi-Sandy recognized that the in-person training sessions were vital to engaging our Early Childhood Educators in opportunities to not only gain valuable information but also to collaborate with others on the strategies learned from the session and to embed peer-to-peer support to successfully implement these strategies in the learning environment for young children. Ms. Genine Blas Rocco, the GDOE’s Teacher Specialist with the Division of Curriculum & Instruction, shared that “observing participants in action during the sessions was very inspiring! We hope that as young children develop in their social and emotional development, these types of training sessions will support our Early Childhood Educators to be equipped with effective approaches in instruction.”

Preschool Teachers participate in an activity working through a three-tier process on developing emotional support.

Additionally, Ms. Geraldine Pablo, an Elementary Principal who supports one of the Pilot Prekindergarten Program, shared the following:

“The Conscious Discipline training offered insights into the different states of our human emotions that affect our actions. These insights improve not only understanding of our students’ behavior and emotions, but also of our own reactions to them. This training is valuable in offering strategies and skills for adults and children that we can all use to cope with fear, stress, and anxiety by bringing us to a state of mind where we can improve our social and emotional health and live happier lives.”

Whether you are an Early Childhood Educator in Guam—or an educator in the Pacific region or in the continental US, or elsewhere—it has always been important to recognize the need to support a child’s emotional well-being and to help them learn the tools for self-regulation. Now, however, due to the additional challenges of COVID-19 and the uptick in stress that our current situation has placed upon us, we also require a deeper understanding of our adult upsets! Conscious Discipline has always been an adult-first process. Our ability to manage our own upsets allows us to be steady enough to offer supportive strategies to our children. This training can be the beginning stages to helping school districts to strive for a process that helps ECE  educators with tools that will develop well-balanced children and that meet their social and emotional needs.


Many may believe that shifting from the online/hybrid modality to the in-person modality was a simple process, but it did come with a struggle. What used to be a click away in pressing the Zoom link became the logistics of preparing for a venue, ensuring that the safety protocols were met such as the availability of hand sanitizers and a 3-foot distancing rule for participants, handouts in hardcopy as opposed to electronic form, and moving from a 2-hour training to a 7-hour session. But this is what we were all waiting for—facilitating and engaging with high-quality in-person sessions in the familiar pre-COVID-19 contexts.


For further information on this project, please contact Eloise R. Sanchez, Senior Program Specialist in Social-Emotional Learning and Early Learning Programs at Pacific Resources for Education and Learning ( or 671.687.5202).

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